June 3, 2014 in Business

In brief: Apple unveils new health, home software

From Wire Reports

SAN FRANCISCO – Apple is expanding into home and health management as the company tries to turn its iPhones, iPads and Mac computers into an interchangeable network of devices that serve as a hub of people’s increasingly digital lives.

The new tools for tracking health and controlling household appliances are part of updated operating systems that Apple unveiled Monday in San Francisco at its 25th annual conference for application developers.

The revised software for Apple Inc.’s devices won’t be released to the general public until this fall, when the company is also expected to start selling the next generation of iPhones and iPads. A spruced-up line of Macs also could be coming before the holiday shopping season.

Europe considers negative interest rates

FRANKFURT, Germany – The European Central Bank could be going negative soon.

Among the more unusual steps the central bank is considering this week to boost the eurozone’s recovery is cutting to below zero the interest rate it pays on money that banks deposit with it. That effectively means banks would have to pay to park money with the ECB – an unorthodox move that has had some success in neighboring Denmark but hasn’t been attempted in the much larger eurozone.

The goal: Push banks to lend that money to companies and consumers to get the economy moving.

Manufacturing index shows solid growth

WASHINGTON – The Institute for Supply Management twice corrected its May manufacturing index on Monday to show that factories grew at a strong pace during the month. The original report said that manufacturers had expanded at a weaker pace.

The index, a widely followed gauge of factory activity, now reads 55.4, up from 53.2 in the initial report. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Construction spending continues to increase

WASHINGTON – U.S. construction spending posted modest gains in April, driven by an uptick in home building and government construction that lifted total activity to the highest level in five years.

Construction spending rose 0.2 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $953.5 billion, the strongest performance since March 2009, the Commerce Department said Monday. The April increase was lower than economists had expected. But the government revised March activity higher to a 0.6 percent gain, up from an initial estimate of a 0.2 percent increase.

The small April improvement, combined with the strong gain in March, suggest that the construction industry is recovering from the harsh winter.

IOWA CITY, Iowa – An Iowa company has agreed to pay $6.8 million in fines for crimes that include selling the tainted eggs that caused a nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2010.

A plea agreement filed Monday by federal prosecutors calls for Quality Egg to plead guilty today to charges of bribery, selling misbranded eggs and introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.

The company is admitting that, between 2006 and 2010, it intentionally sold eggs with false labels that disguised how old they were.

Company owners Austin and Peter DeCoster are expected to plead guilty today to introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.

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